In the humorous folktale Rip Van Winkle, Washington Irving tells of a man who walks up into the Catskill Mountains, meets some strange bearded men who offer him some magic liquor, and wakes up 20 years later. At the beginning of the story, America is a British colony, while...
In the humorous folktale Rip Van Winkle, Washington Irving tells of a man who walks up into the Catskill Mountains, meets some strange bearded men who offer him some magic liquor, and wakes up 20 years later. At the beginning of the story, America is a British colony, while at the end the United States has already fought the Revolutionary War and won independence.
To lend verisimilitude to the tale, Irving gives it a pseudo-historical frame. His style is indeed lighthearted and humorous. Let's find a few examples of humorous lines, and you can decide what line you think is the most humorous.
In the third paragraph, Irving writes of Diedrich Knickerbocker, the man who originally wrote the story.
The old man died shortly after the publication of his work; and now that he is dead and gone, it cannot do much harm to his memory to say that his time might have been much better employed in weightier labors.
Here Irving is making fun of the source he is using for Rip Van Winkle's tale, suggesting that it is really of no great importance. It's also humorous how Irving describes Rip's kindness and patience despite a henpecking wife. Speaking of henpecked men, Irving writes:
Their tempers are, doubtless, rendered pliant and malleable in the fiery furnace of domestic tribulation, and a curtain-lecture is worth all the sermons in the world for teaching the virtues of patience and long-suffering. A termagant wife may, therefore, in some respects, be considered a blessing, and if so, Rip Van Winkle was thrice-blessed.
As Irving makes fun of the story at the beginning, so he does again at the end. After Rip has returned to the village and confirmed his identity, he becomes one of the patriarchs and tells his story to anyone who will listen. Irving writes:
He was observed, at first, to vary on some points every time he told it, which was, doubtless, owing to his having so recently awakened. It at last settled down precisely to the tale I have related, and not a man, woman, or child in the neighborhood, but knew it by heart.